Coronavirus… another week with Hastings Battleaxe

The first week of our lockdown felt like a bit of a novelty. See last week’s post. But now, reality is hitting, and it feels somewhat unsettling and disagreeable.  Our government does not inspire confidence. However, apart from being ‘elderly’, Battleaxe and Philosopher are very fortunate. We are healthy (touch wood) have a nice home, a garden, interesting walks from our doorstep, plenty to eat and drink, good neighbours and each other’s company.

Sunny walk on the East Hill

Each morning I wake up (very early) and see the light through the curtains, knowing that when I open them, there will be the sun on the sea. But then I remember that life is not OK. It feels unreal.  But I get up as usual, have my usual breakfast – Dorset Simply Nutty Muesli, a sprinkle of added nuts and seeds, a couple of spoons of strawberry Kefir yoghurt, blueberries, skimmed milk, orange juice, Earl Grey tea… Good God, you cry, call that suffering?

This week we actually got a rarer-than-hens-teeth Waitrose home delivery. When we were in Cornwall, the forward-thinking amongst our party were doing on-line orders. I was sniffy but eventually succumbed – even then the only supermarket I could log onto was Waitrose, and I only got one slot. I increased and increased the order over the next couple of weeks because people kept telling me that they only delivered part of what you order. But being Waitrose, they delivered absolutely everything except one packet of fennel tea…  So now, we are well and truly stocked up.  The ‘Partner’ who brought it, Alan, puffed cheerfully up our steps with sack after sack of supplies. He kept on saying how us elderly should take care of our selves. I felt guilty because he was clearly substantially older than us…

There’s Alan – older than us…

Every couple of days one of us – usually me – pops up to Ore Village for a paper and other necessities, eg Co-op Belgian cholocate brioche hot-cross buns. Philosopher somehow found a box of disposable latex gloves in one of his personal kingdoms. Heaven knows what he had got those for, I shudder to imagine, but they are good for shopping. We leave our shopping bags, outdoor coats and shoes in the porch, wipe all purchases with antiseptic wipes before letting them in the house bla-de bla-de yada.

In the street, we carefully avoid others… even crossing the road to avoid them. We do often meet people we know, and chat to the neighbours, but shout conversations from a distance.

We have not used our car for days. There is no earthly reason why we should not get in the car and drive somewhere else nearby to walk, but I know if everyone did it, places would be over-run. So, we walk near to home, hurrying along virtually empty streets to nearby open spaces, also pretty much deserted. We take care not to touch anything, but yesterday we stroked old Jasper, a very elderly, gentle Border Collie who lives in Clive Avenue, where he lies in the open boot of the car outside his house. He is no doubt a one-dog virus super-spreader, being greeted and petted by everyone in Clive Vale.  There is something so poignant about very old dogs…

Old Jasper

Our daily walks are probably the highlight of our day, and we are very lucky to have such great places nearby. I have put a good few photos on Facebook, but will put some of the best on here. We have been several times to the Country Park, the West hill, the East Hill, the Cemetery, Speckled Wood. We set out about 11 after a coffee and walk until about 12.30. Nature is very busy right now – birds singing their heads off, flowers, pale green leaves, tree blossom.

View from the East Hill
Speckled Wood

Probably the best walk was the Cemetery, a truly magical place. It was empty and so, so, peaceful. The dead all around us, hundreds and hundreds of them, just quietly getting on with being dead.  Some have been there since the early 1800s, some for just a couple of years, but all are now the same. Been here, done it, been through what we all dread and now gone. Nothing to bother them any more. Here is a blog post I wrote about the Cemetery a couple of years ago. It is so large that all the times I have walked in it, I have never yet reached the end.

I see alarming social media posts from people who seem to be so busy cleaning, decorating, baking, crafting, writing, gardening, doing virtual this that and the other… I do most of those things (except for cleaning, decorating and baking, hell what do you take me for…) sporadically, but find it hard to concentrate on any one thing for long.

Neither Philosopher or I sleep very well at the moment. He is well too by the way, but I sense he is getting a bit more downhearted than me. I think he worries a lot but doesn’t let on.

I had to produce an in-house edition of the East Sussex WI News – our printer/designer have ceased business for the time being – which stretched my capabilities to the very limit. My fellow East Sussex Trustees have said that they prefer my version to the professional magazine, which is very flattering, but it took me days and days to do.  Am also writing this blog… but can’t settle to any proper creative writing.  I have bought wax to redo the surfaces of our Ercol tables but don’t fancy doing that yet. I am discouragingly keen on food and drink.

I spend much time communicating with others via several WhatsApp groups, and experience strange, random appearances of friends on things like Houseparty, usually when I am lying round blearily with rats-tail hair in my tatty dressing gown.  Tonight we have a proper drinks session with friends on Zoom. Am half way through a jigsaw, Philosopher and I have actually played Scrabble, and I wasted an entire afternoon playing with Google’s virtual reality animals – see below.

Outside our little bubble, the national situation is grim, and cases and deaths are increasing. Our death rate is disturbingly high. Given that we have no proper testing programme, who knows what the true number of cases might be.  Yesterday we learned that only 2000 NHS staff had been tested, out of  half a million, despite government promises… 30 ventilators instead of 30,000… It is almost farcical. Johnson has been self-isolating and appears looking pale and seedy via a video link from his flat in Downing Street. What has happened to the pregnant Carrie? Johnson’s vile side-kick Cummings is also off,  ‘showing symptoms’ as is Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer. Matt Hancock actually has the virus, as do other senior ministers. Parliament is in recess, so there is nobody to call these people to account, and now they only communicate with each other via glitchy video link.

Philosopher and I usually assemble with a glass of something and a packet of something at 5pm each day for the Government’s so-called briefing. They have had Gove on a couple of times. Lord knows why they bother because the man is totally incapable of answering the simplest question with a straight answer, or of uttering a single word of truth. As well as Gove, the line-up of second-raters who are, apparently, Ministers of State is truly alarming.  They are either suavely and infuriatingly over-confident as they reel off streams of boasting bull-shit, or swivel-eyed and panicky, or just plain dull and bumbling.  This should leave nobody in the dark about what a low-rent, inexperienced bunch the majority of voters inexplicably enabled to seize power.

Having said that, Labour Party? What Labour Party? Opposition? What Opposition? The Leadership election is still dragging on endlessly, pointlessly and meaninglessly somewhere in the background.  I think I read that the ballot closes today.  Today? Why the hell didn’t it close months ago. Who will now care who wins?

Still, maybe we are still better off than the US. Trump is becoming increasingly irrational and  inarticulate, while Biden, the apparent Democratic front-runner, hides at home.  Despite his mind-numbing incompetence, despite rapidly escalating numbers of COVID cases and deaths, Trump’s popularity is undimmed, making it increasingly likely that he will retain power for another 4 years.

So, on we go.  I sense that the masses will not put up with this lockdown for too long – and what then?  Wait for the next gripping instalment next week.










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